Israel is only 73 years old, which is extremely young for a country — even my grandfather Ivor is much older at 83 (sorry, grandpa!).

Like America, Israel enjoys a melting pot of cultures from all over the world. This affects the languages you hear on the street, the religions practiced and, of course, the food!

The recipes, dishes and tastes of Israel come together in a most harmonious and beautiful way from Arabic, Yemenite, Georgian, Russian and many other influences. What most people know when they think of Israeli food is hummus and falafel, definitely staples among the bustling streets of cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

One of my favorite Israeli dishes takes on old-fashioned milk pudding and puts on a modern hipster spin: malabi.

This sweet milk-based pudding is a perfect remedy to the blazing hot summer days coming our way. You can make it vegan with coconut crème and agar agar, and you can dress it up in any way you’d like: adding jam, honey, pomegranate syrup, salted peanuts — anything and everything goes.

In this recipe I add a lovely tart and fruity syrup and top with pistachios and rose petals.

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Make this and close your eyes and you might just float away to the hot Mediterranean …

Malabi

Equipment:
Small mixing bowl
Medium and small saucepans
Four ramekins or other shallow bowls

Ingredients for the pudding:
3 cups whole milk, divided (2% milk is also fine)
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon rose water (or vanilla or orange flower water, depending on taste preference)
⅓ cup sugar

For the raspberry and rose water syrup:
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
1 teaspoon rose water

Directions for malabi:

  1. Mix together in your small bowl ½ cup milk with the ¼ cup cornstarch and add 1 tablespoon rose water. Mix together with a small whisk or fork until everything is well combined and smooth (no lumps, please!).
  2. In your saucepan, mix together 2 ½ cups milk with your sugar. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, making sure to stir frequently. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Reduce the heat to low to bring the milk/sugar mixture to a simmer. Stirring constantly, slowly add the milk/cornstarch mixture to the saucepan.
  4. Continue to cook, while stirring often, at a simmer to allow your pudding to get thick enough that it can coat the back of a spoon, about six to eight minutes.
  5. When your pudding is thick enough, equally spoon the malabi into your ramekins and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Cover with wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours.

For syrup:

  1. In a small saucepan, mix together your sugar, water and jam. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir well so that the jam combines with the dissolved sugar.
  2. Remove your pan from the heat when the mixture is smooth and a bit shiny. Incorporate the rose water. Set aside syrup until your pudding is set and ready to be assembled.

Assembly:
Spoon syrup over each individual malabi and garnish with pistachios and rose petals or whatever combination you’d like.

Enjoy!